To read the first blog of this series:” I’m hearing chatter about why a professional musician would even put themselves in such a situation. For the many who haven’t seen it (and I guess that includes me, as I’ve been too chicken to watch) – here’s what happened: I was invited to compete on “America’s Got Talent,” played James Brown “I Feel Good” and was buzzed (rejected) with lightning speed.
Why would I put myself in that position?
Well … of course there are many reasons for it, “Wanting to experience…” being high on the list, and “Hoping to win…” NOT being among them.
Doing things like this is part of my job: I’m committed to becoming a better, deeper, more authentic composer, performer and teacher. That’s my bottom line. Sometimes that means making huge ‘blunders’ or simply putting myself in situations where my ego is at huge risk. Sometimes it means going through something awkwardly so that I can guide others with more insight. I don’t think there’s any way to do that ‘carefully.’
Is it painful sometimes? YES! Am I going to stop doing it? No.
I’m not in this – the life of an artist – to be liked or to be well-thought of. I mean, it’s wonderful when I am — but when I’m worried about that (and I do get obsessively worried about it at times) I can’t do my work at the depth I need to.
I need to experience the things I do – to find the deepest truth and connection I can and put that into my work the best I can. If that means I experience complete failure, scathing reviews, and utter rejection — well, that comes with the territory. Am I embarrassed or hurt by it sometimes? ABSOLUTELY! Am I going to stop? No.
Experience is essential. I don’t always get to choose how that experience will pan out: Was it incredible to stand in front of thousands of people, singing my own music, backed by orchestra when I filmed my DVD “Invention & Alchemy”? YES! Was it incredible to do something I’m not particularly good at in front of judges who didn’t like it, and honestly told me so on AGT? YES!
These are both incredible, rich experiences that are open to me because I’m a performer. Was it a deeper, richer experience to get a Grammy Nomination than to get rejected on AGT? No! They’re both incredibly rich. And … I’m sorry to admit … they’re both painful in their own way.
But why would I only want some of these experiences and not the others? How can I help students reeling from rejection if I haven’t experienced it myself? How can I connect with audiences who have at some time experienced humiliation themselves if I’m not willing to put myself there, too, as an artist?
The experiences that make us better performers and artists are not always the same ones as those that give us accolades, or make us appear successful in the public eye. What illuminates our lives and our work isn’t always – maybe isn’t ever — the glory. And we need that illumination to deeply express ourselves as artists.
So first and foremost – AGT was a hugely rich experience, and now that it’s aired and I can write about it, I’ll try to paint as much as I can for you of how “America’s Got Talent” saved my life and why I would do it – and many other things you might not think I should – again … and again.